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Louisiana Governor Signs Medical Cannabis Bills

A.J. Herrington

By A.J. Herrington

June 23, 2022

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced this week that he has signed nearly a dozen bills related to cannabis, giving his approval to several pieces of legislation to expand the state’s

program. On Tuesday, the governor’s office released from the 2022 legislative session signed by Edwards, including measures to restructure the oversight of Louisiana’s medicinal cannabis program.

from Rep. Tanner Magee will likely have the most impact on the medicinal cannabis industry and patients by shifting regulatory authority over the medical marijuana program from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry to the state Department of Health. The measure also allows existing medical cannabis retailers to open additional dispensary locations but fails to allow new businesses to enter the state’s medicinal cannabis industry, a provision criticized for maintaining strict barriers to entry for independent entrepreneurs. Edwards signed HB-697 into law on June 16 and the measure becomes effective on August 1.

Another measure signed into law by Edwards,

from Rep. Joseph Marino, allows Lousiana medical marijuana dispensaries to sell cannabis to registered patients from other states with medicinal cannabis programs. A companion measure from Marino, , specifically protects registered patients from other states from being prosecuted for participating in the state’s medical marijuana program. Both measures go into effect on August 1.

Sally Kent Peebles, a partner at the cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg, applauded Louisiana’s extension of the medical marijuana program to visitors from other states.

“Patients visiting or temporarily living in Louisiana should not fear arrest and prosecution for using their medicine,” she told High There in an email. “They should be able to access it safely and legally from the state’s licensed dispensaries, just as they’d be able to access their prescription medications from a pharmacy.”

Another piece of legislation from Magee,

, authorizes the state Department of Health to impose fees on medical marijuana testing facilities. The measure went into effect immediately upon Edwards signing the bill on June 16.

Nurse Practitioners Can Now Write Recommendations

from Rep. Travis Johnson eases access to medical marijuana for patients by allowing nurse practitioners to write recommendations for medicinal cannabis. Under current regulations, only physicians are permitted to recommend the use of medical marijuana for their patients. The bill becomes effective on August 1.

Rep. Cedric Glover’s

removes from the state’s drug paraphernalia laws items “solely used or intended for use for the inhalation of raw or crude marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinols, or a chemical derivative of tetrahydrocannabinols” by registered medical marijuana patients. HB-775 also goes into effect on August 1.

, sponsored by Rep. Marcus Bryant, codifies that “the odor of marijuana alone shall not provide a law enforcement officer with probable cause to conduct a search of a person’s place of residence.” 

Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies at the cannabis advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project, praised Edwards and state lawmakers for enhancing Louisiana’s medical marijuana program for patients.

“Not long ago, Louisiana had perhaps the harshest cannabis laws in the nation and no medical cannabis program,”

. “Louisiana has made steady progress since then, and that trend continued in 2022,” she said. “We applaud the legislature and governor for enacting a half dozen bills to expand the medical cannabis program, including reciprocity and allowing more locations to dispense cannabis, along with its limitation on warrantless searches based on the smell of cannabis.”

from Rep. Laurie Schlegel prohibits the smoking and vaping of medical marijuana in a motor vehicle. The effective date of the legislation is August 1.

Edwards also signed two hemp bills into law this month. Johnson’s

creates the Louisiana Industrial Hemp Promotion and Research Program, which will be tasked with fostering “the growth and development of the industrial hemp industry.” from Rep. Clay Schexnayder establishes regulations for Lousiana’s hemp industry, including provisions for licensing hemp companies, a ban on smokable hemp and alcoholic beverages with hemp-derived cannabinoids and a requirement for criminal background checks during the business licensing process. HB-758 is effective immediately, while HB-330 goes into effect on August 1.

Louisiana
A.J. Herrington

About The Author

A.J. Herrington

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